Draymond Green at the heart of the Warriors Championship run

Draymond Green revealed the simple truth while addressing the press in Denver last month.

“Not everyone made the playoffs,” Green said after leading the series 3-0 after the Warriors defeated the Nuggets 118-113. “If you look around, some guys you think are guys didn’t make the playoffs.

“That’s it.”

Green’s comment wasn’t about Nikola Jokic, who would become Green’s second consecutive MVP with 37 points and 18 rebounds, and especially the Nuggets. Rather, Green’s words were a bit of self-affirmation. And of course it is. After a 34-month absence from the postseason from June 2019 to April this year, Green returned to his place. One of the greatest playoff performers of the century is now powering the next push towards Golden State’s Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Few players can match Green’s playoff resume in modern times. He was one of 13 players in NBA history to score 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds and 750 assists in the postseason, making 12 current or future Hall of Fame inductees. He is 6th active player in playoff assists and 7th in win percentage. And while impressive, the stats don’t define Green’s postseason resume.

Perhaps this simple accounting paints a better picture. Green was plus-980 in 4,198 minutes in the playoffs, dating back to 2015, when Golden State’s first win took place. In contrast, LeBron James is +633 in 4,318 minutes of the playoffs in that range. Tim Duncan set his best six-year playoff record (1999-05) in 3,925 minutes, while Shaquille O’Neill posted +590 in postseason minutes in the 2000-05 season. Summing the pluses and minuses for extended stretch is an imperfect measure that does not perfectly capture an individual’s performance. But Green’s significant edge over the best players of the century is empirical. His play is the driving force behind his victory in basketball, as if he had not remembered it recently.

“The bigger the game, the better,” said Warriors manager Steve Kerr. “When his risk is high, he will use his intelligence and competitiveness at a high rate. Getting to the playoffs is just that.”

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Green’s playoff dominance is regular, with his performance seemingly unaffected by opponents, lineups or age. Green finished third among all players in the 2015 playoffs with a net rating of +12.5. He is fourth in the rotation with +15 this postseason. Seven of Golden State’s 10 best three-man lineups this postseason (at least 50 minutes) are greens. The Warriors’ dominance in the sport over the past decade will be remembered largely with Curry’s Rainbow Three and Thompson’s fantastic 41-point night in Oklahoma City. But behind the triple, a stable engine remained. Green controlled the action from the end and served as arguably the greatest Swiss Army knife in league history.

Green’s defensive prowess should bolster his nomination for Springfield later this decade. He boasts six All-Defense picks and one Defender of the Year award, and has entered the top three on multiple occasions behind multiple wins Rudy Gobert and Kawhi Leonard. And while both of the aforementioned defenders will one day earn their own Hall of Fame, Green is probably the more versatile player. Gobert tries bravely, but he can’t dance around like Green. Leonard is perhaps the best ball hawking wing in league history. He doesn’t bark as a backline anchor as Green does. Green is the most adaptable chess horse in the league, as modern offense reduces most defenders to experts in planning.

The Golden State’s first nine games into the playoffs show Green’s versatility. He is most devastating when allowed to roam in center field, paying little attention to the weak links in opponents’ attacks, dealing heavy damage as an assist defender. He couldn’t afford that luxury in Round 1. With Jokić on the other side, Green was forced to focus on a single mission. He did the job.

At first sight Jokić showed off his usual flamboyant directing against Green and Warriors. He is now the only player this century to average 31 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists in the postseason (at least 5 games) and his efforts have come with a support cast compared to Nuggets manager Mike Malone. ford pinto. The impressive output, however, omits the well of frustration Green caused for much of the series. Jokić was sent off after his second technical in a second leg loss, and his scoring totals throughout the series came from clips that were far less efficient than usual.

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Denver’s engine finished the series with 24 turnovers and 29 assists. He was minus 45 in 63 minutes of games 1 and 2. And when Denver tried to save the series late in Game 3, Green once again hung Jokić on the wall.

“Draymond is the best defender in the world,” Thompson said. “Without him, we are not warriors.”

Green returned to a more versatile role in the second round. He showed his flair with the ball without fear of a discrepancy after falling behind in the rotation. Golden State even won the rebound fight despite Memphis center Steven Adams’ 27th minute in Game 4, and there’s no fear of a switch, especially with Green, who is missing Morant. Green and the Warriors currently play long doubles and triples with a limited Memphis roster, blocking lanes at every opportunity.

Green’s superb defensive prowess took center stage in Game 4 when Memphis got their last chance to tie the tournament 98-95. Green jumped over the stature to meet Grizzlies point guard Tyus Jones and maneuvered around Jones’ follow-up screen, shuffling the ball to Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. After blocking the shot and securing the victory, Green began to roar at the crowd. congratulations. Curry’s words to Green were brief, but appropriate. “That’s what you do.”

Green’s typical All-Defense impact should be expected to continue through the rest of the Golden State playoffs. But how long it lasts will depend on Green’s performance on the other side of the floor. He highlighted a problematic trend in his recent game against Memphis, but is still thriving with an aggressive, lever-wielding laser above the arc. As Green becomes more and more reluctant to shoot, Golden State’s offense could be a rare setback.

The scope of Green’s resume is irritating for a player with such a small scoring potential. Green is one of three players to record a 50-win share this century while scoring under 6,000 points, and is now down to single-digit points per game in the postseason for the first time since 2013. His scoring decline, especially against Memphis, was discordant.

Green has attempted just 13 shots in four games and is scoreless in one of three series. He went through numerous attempts at the rim for unnecessary kickouts, with layups and plotters remaining almost a last resort. Green doesn’t have to be a third Splash Brother or a driver asking for an assist defense. But his passivity is giving the Grizzlies a tip for showing off the pass lane freely without retaliation.

For Green, it’s no longer 2015 or 2016. all 32 points in the final No doubt, his previously modest blast around the rim even hit. However, Green’s game beauty goes far beyond his physical limitations. According to Kerr, he is a frontcourt hybrid with no parallels in history, combining the excellent defensive skills of Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace with the skills of “distributor and fastener, a kind of point center”. Betting on his shortcomings still feels as foolish today as it did 50 years ago when the Golden State rose from the laughing stock of the NBA to a dynasty.

Green has energized the Warriors over the past decade as the Golden State redefines the sport. Now, in a new era, he has returned to his place.

“I love this time of the year,” Green said. “It’s in my wheelhouse.”

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